The national folklore festival Rozhen is held every four years in the Rozhen region of the Rhodope Mountain. Rozhen Fest dates back to a hundred years ago. The first Festival was held in 1898. The idea was given by father Angel Indzhov – a priest of the village of Sokolovtsi. He appealed to all his parishioners to honor all the saints of the Rozhen chapels on the day of St. Panteleymon” – the 27 July, near the Chapel “St. Kirik and Yulita”, where the Festival is held to the present day. At those times the border between Bulgaria and the Ottoman empire led through the mount of Rozhen. There gathered the inhabitants of three artificially divided surrounding villages – Progled, in Bulgaria, and Momchilovtsi and Sokolovtsi on the Turkish side of the border. They gathered for family meetings and sang folk songs in the accompaniment of bagpipes, baked the traditional Bulgarian Lamb dish – Whole Lamb on the Fire.
The Rozhen fest after the liberation
After the year 1912 (liberation of the Rhodope mountain from Ottoman dominion), the Rozhen Fest lost its political meaning, and acquired by chance regarding the borderline, but retained the spirit of tradition, the time and venue, as a forum for the people from the middle Rhodope mountain. More and more family and friendly meetings of the Rhodopeans inside the country were held.
The fair is a significant folklore event in Bulgaria since 1961. More than 170 folklore bands and 150 back-pipe performers participated in the 2006 edition. The Rozhen festival allows artistic expression of numerous known and unknown performers from the Rhodope mountain. Some of the most famous Bulgarian folklore singers – Valya Balkanska, Nadka Karadzhova and Yanka Rupkina took part in the festival.
Izlel e Delyo Haydutin
The song Izlel e Delyo Haydutin (Delyo the Haidouk Came Out) originates from Rozhen and was performed by Valya Balkanska, to land on the board of the space station Voyager, along with the music of Bach, Beethoven and Mozart.
Over the years the Rozhen Festival became a nationwide singing competition festival for Bulgarian folk music. Folk singers and instrumentalists from all over the country gather to sing and play on the scenes of the biggest festival of folk songs in Bulgaria.